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5 observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Pittsburgh

Kyle Filipowski led the charge for the Blue Devils in the first half against Pittsburgh.
Kyle Filipowski led the charge for the Blue Devils in the first half against Pittsburgh.

Matched up against a much-improved Pittsburgh team in its return to Cameron Indoor Stadium, No. 24 Duke struggled to keep pace in the first half but only let the visiting Panthers pull away in the final minutes. The Blue Devils are hanging in there and trail 43-32 with 20 minutes left on the clock.

No Roach 

Duke captain Jeremy Roach missed his second straight game Wednesday after a reaggravated toe injury kept him out of the action against Boston College. Duke was able to narrowly escape the Eagles in Chestnut Hill, Mass., despite Roach’s absence, but Pittsburgh presents a steeper test for the Blue Devils. Freshman wing Dariq Whitehead started again in place of Roach after posting an effective 18-point performance against Boston College. Depth at the guard position in Roach’s absence was a problem early against Pittsburgh, as freshman guard Tyrese Proctor picked up a quick two fouls in the first five minutes.

Keeping pace  

Duke has occasionally struggled out of the gate, as the Blue Devils found themselves down 15-0 early in their matchup against N.C. State and couldn't recover. In the opening five minutes against Pittsburgh, the Blue Devils were able to match Pittsburgh’s physical style and keep the Panthers within striking distance, trailing 12-9 at the 14:54 mark. Duke will need to continue to go toe to toe with Pittsburgh and avoid being on the wrong end of any large scoring runs from its ACC foes. 

Ball security 

Duke has had problems with ball security throughout the season, and Wednesday’s contest continued the troubling trend. Graduate center Ryan Young’s errant pass out of bounds with 11:35 left in the first half was Duke’s sixth turnover of the game, and the Blue Devils struggled throughout the half to take care of the basketball, finishing with 12 turnovers to Pittsburgh’s eight. While the Panthers were unable to truly capitalize on Duke’s lack of ball security (scoring only eight points off of those turnovers), improved ball security will go a long way in helping Duke secure its 13th win of the season. 


Despite Duke’s gritty start, the team found itself on the wrong end of a 13-2 run by Pittsburgh that put the Blue Devils down by 12 with 9:35 to play in the first half. However, Duke responded admirably with a 9-2 run of its own to cut the deficit to five points with just under seven minutes on the clock. The team was able to respond effectively when the game was going south, and continuing this resilient play will serve the Blue Devils well in the second half. 

Player of the half: Kyle Filipowski

Filipowski was effective throughout the first half for Duke, pacing the Blue Devils with 12 points. What’s more, the freshman also found a bit of success beyond the arc, scoring his first 3-pointer since Dec. 6 against Iowa. Filipowski’s physicality and strength inside will be important in the second half of a tense matchup in Cameron Indoor. 


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